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Anomalous winter climate conditions in the Pacific rim during recent El Niño Modoki and El Niño events

Abstract

Present work compares impacts of El Niño Modoki and El Niño on anomalous climate in the Pacific rim during boreal winters of 1979–2005. El Niño Modoki (El Niño) is associated with tripole (dipole) patterns in anomalies of sea-surface temperature, precipitation, and upper-level divergent wind in the tropical Pacific, which are related to multiple “boomerangs” of ocean-atmosphere conditions in the Pacific. Zonal and meridional extents of those “boomerangs” reflect their independent influences, which are seen from lower latitudes in the west to higher latitudes in the east. In the central Pacific, more moisture is transported from the tropics to higher latitudes during El Niño Modoki owing to displacement of the wet “boomerang” arms more poleward toward east. Discontinuities at outer “boomerang” arms manifest intense interactions between tropical and subtropical/extratropical systems. The Pacific/North American pattern and related climate anomalies in North America found in earlier studies are modified in very different ways by the two phenomena. The seesaw with the dry north and the wet south in the western USA is more likely to occur during El Niño Modoki, while much of the western USA is wet during El Niño. The moisture to the southwestern USA is transported from the northward shifted ITCZ during El Niño Modoki, while it is carried by the storms traveling along the southerly shifted polar front jet during El Niño. The East Asian winter monsoon related anticyclone is over the South China Sea during El Niño Modoki as compared to its position over the Philippine Sea during El Niño, causing opposite precipitation anomalies in the southern East Asia between the two phenomena.

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Notes

  1. The SACZ is not originated in the tropical Pacific but in the Amazon basin and extends toward southeastern Brazil and then protrudes into the subtropical Atlantic Ocean. Its existence certainly has interaction with both the canonical El Niño and El Niño Modoki in the eastern tropical Pacific. In this paper, we will not discuss such an interaction and its possible impacts on South America.

  2. In the East Asian winter monsoon region, the northwest wind prevails over northern/northeastern China, Korea and Japan, while the northeast wind prevails over the southern China, the South China Sea and the western North Pacific to the south of Japan (e.g., Chan and Li 2004). We note that some studies use the term “East Asian winter monsoon region” to denote the region where northeast wind prevails (e.g., Chang et al. 2004).

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Acknowledgments

We are thankful to Y. He for the U.S. 102-division rainfall data, to S.-W. Wang and J.-B. Huang for the 160-station rainfall data in China, and to R.-C. Zhang for the help in processing rainfall data in Japan. Our special thanks go to K. Ashok, R. Lukas, J. McCreary, M. McPhaden, G. Meyers, S. A. Rao, and Z. Yu for inspiring discussions. We appreciate the constructive comments from two anonymous reviewers.

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Correspondence to Hengyi Weng.

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Weng, H., Behera, S.K. & Yamagata, T. Anomalous winter climate conditions in the Pacific rim during recent El Niño Modoki and El Niño events. Clim Dyn 32, 663–674 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-008-0394-6

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Keywords

  • El Niño Modoki
  • El Niño
  • Climate extremes
  • Boreal winter teleconnections
  • Boomerang patterns